How to survive winter through feeding your colony

How to survive winter through feeding your colony

A common phone call that we receive in March of each year:

Caller – “Ray, I do not know what happened. I opened my hive today and all the bees are dead!  It must be that the colony collapse disorder has hit my area.”  

Ray – “When were you last in your hive”? 

Caller – “I have not been in my hive since November of last year”.

Ray – “How much honey was in the hive when you opened it up this week?”

Caller – “There were no frames of honey found in the hive.  I always leave a full super of honey and that gets the bees through the winter.” 

 Yes, this caller did all the right things in keeping a super of honey for their food source during the winter months.  The problem is that the caller did not understand that the colony was much more larger this year and the winter months were three weeks longer than average.

It is very important to check on your hive during this time of the year.  Regardless of how cold it is today, you can go out and stand behind your hive and gently lift the rear of the hive about 1 inch just to feel the weight of the hive.  If it is heavy, there should be enough honey for a couple more weeks.  If the hive is light weight, it is time for a quick action plan.  An easy way to feed the bees would be is to insert a Boardman Entrance Feeder in the front of the hive utilizing the larger sized opening of the entrance reducer.

The Boardman Feeder should be filled with a sugar water ratio of 2:1.  This will allow your bees the necessary hydration and food to continue through the winter season. 

You can also pour pollen granules on a shallow plate and place it on the top bar, of the top super of the hive.

Another feeding source can be making a pollen patty out of fondant.  You simply purchase or make a sugar patty and add a 1/2 cup of pollen granules, seven drops of Lemongrass essential oil, and 7 drops of Tea tree essential oil and mix these ingredients together, by hand.

Always remember, the temperature must be above 55 degrees before you open your hive.  Your bees will greatly appreciate a “pollen protein patty” during this time of the year.  It best to be in the hive no more than 5 minutes to help retain the warmth of the colony and to not chill your bees.

If you can give your bees sugar water and pollen patties it should get them through the winter!

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